Judith Grimes loved Maggie and Glenn Rhee's oldest son Hershel, she also loved the youngest Liam with her whole heart, but then there were moments like this, when she just wanted to run as fast as possible outside the house and far away from the baby boy's high, unendurable screams.
The Rhee's had come over this afternoon to their house for some tea and biscuits. Judith always loved it to see the two sweet boys, but since over one week Liam began to scream that loud and annoying like he had never done before. He gets his teeth, Maggie had explained to her and Judith understood, but still the boy's screams got under her skin and almost explored her eardrum.
"I can't remember Hershel has screamed like that, when he was little." Judith said with her hands covering protective her ears from the high baby screams. Glenn began to laugh and also Maggie smiled, while she tried to calm down little Liam in her arms. "Yeah, I also can't remember about that. I have obviously forgotten about it, that's probably even the reason why we have the little bawler now." Glenn said, while he fed his older son some mashed carrots.
Judith got goose bumps everywhere on her body and shocked she pressed her eyes closed, after little Liam gave one of his best, heartbreaking screams from himself. "Oh God. When will he stop?" Judith asked annoyed, which also caused a smile on her father's and Michonne's lips, sitting opposite from herself.
Five minutes later the youngest Rhee had finally stopped and slept peacefully in his mother's arms now. "Finally. I have thought he won't ever stop." Judith said relieved, but she couldn't suppress the need to smile at the little baby boy, even when he had almost made her running away minutes ago.
"Have I also cried that bad, when I was little?" Judith asked her father, while she stuffed one biscuit into her mouth and washed it down with some warm tea. "If you believe me or not, but yeah, you have." Rick said, after he had laughed out loud.
"Really? How have you endured that? What have you done to calm me down? By Liam obviously nothing works." Judith asked, while she gave her whole attention another biscuit. Only after she had taken a big swallow from the tea and finally looked up from her cup, she got the expression from the four people around her.
They all tried to hide their eyes from her, were even looking embarrassed at their fingers or at some random point in the room. Maggie even seemed a little sad, while she looked down at her son. Glenn cleared uncomfortable his throat, before he went on feeding Hershel.
Michonne moved the cup in her hands nervously and also her father looked unhappy, while he bit down on his lower lip. Judith didn't know what she had done or said wrong, but she obviously had. She wasn't that young any more with her thirteen years to notice that she had entered dangerous area.
She just wanted to tell them that she was sorry, even when she didn't know for what, when her father finally found his voice again. "It wasn't me, who had calmed you down that time." Judith wasn't that surprised about this, somehow she had already known it before. Of course, her father hadn't calmed her down, when she was a baby. He probably had other things to do as a leader, they were at a prison at that time, he had told her about that part of their journey from time to time.
Probably one of the women had taken care of her. Maybe Michonne, Carol or even Maggie. Why did they make such a big deal about that? She wasn't mad about her father, that someone other had taken care of her. She understood that, but why were they all so mysterious?
"Okay. But who did it then?" Judith asked curious, which caused an even worse reaction from her family. They all kept quiet and that strange way, which made her even more nosy. "Was it you Michonne? Or you Maggie? I bet it was Carol." Judith finally said, because she couldn't stand the silence any more.
Michonne shook almost unnoticeable her head and Maggie gave still her whole attention to little Liam in her arms. No one wanted to give her an answer to her question and slowly Judith began to feel misunderstood and even a little angry, but before she could tell them so, Rick said "Beth. Her name was Beth."
Surprised about getting an answer from her father and about the name she had never heard in her life before, Judith's mouth stayed opened and her brain tried to remember about that woman, tried to find a picture, a face. Judith also hadn't missed the way Maggie had shrugged together, Glenn had looked compassionate at his wife and Michonne had closed her eyes by the woman's name.
"Beth." Judith repeated more to herself than to the other. "Who was she?" The girl asked curios, she also had other questions like why she had taken care of her, where the woman was now, even when she already knew the answer o this question anyway or how she was. But again obviously no one wanted to give her an answer to all her questions and the air felt almost electrical talking about that topic.
But they have woken up her curiosity with that and she needed answers now or she won't be able to sleep tonight, like always, when something didn't want to leave her head. Judith just wanted to ask one more time who the woman was, when her father said "You should better ask Daryl about her."
Now Judith was really surprised. Why should she ask Daryl about the woman? The man with the shaggy, long hair was never that talkative, even when they were living in the same house since years. Why couldn't her father, Michonne or anyone other give her some answers?
With narrowed eyes Judith was looking at everyone and finally then she got it, that she won't get any information out of them. There seemed no other way than looking for Daryl to ask him.
No one said a word, when Judith stood up, left the room and made her way into the living room, where she had seen Daryl the last time. But the only thing she saw trough the window, after she had entered the big room, was Daryl getting away from the house with fast steps, almost running. Where was this mysterious woman that no one wanted to talk about her?
Days went by, even weeks, but Judith hadn't forgotten about that topic. She still wanted to ask Daryl about the woman named Beth, but whenever he saw the youngest Grimes he got away as fast as possible. Judith didn't even have to chance to say hello to him, since that day he had obviously heard their conversation in the kitchen.
And Judith still couldn't sleep that well, since she knew about this mysterious woman. And so also this night. She had moved in her bed from one side to the other since hours, she had tried to read something, had drunk some warm milk, but nothing had worked and now she even had to stand up to go to the toilet after her drink.
Sleepily she made her way over to the bathroom and she was almost back to her room, when she noticed the faint light coming from downstairs. First she hadn't even seen it, she was probably so tired, but now she followed the light downstairs into the living room.
And there he was. Daryl sitting on the couch in front of the fire, staring into the flames like he could see something inside them. He had probably just come home after a run and wanted to warm himself up, it was in the middle of the night actually.
Even when she wanted so badly some answers and the knowledge about how this woman was, Judith still hesitated for a few moments on the stairs, before she got the whole way down and bare foot she got over the carpet closer to the so lonely looking man.
"Hey." She said softly, almost afraid that he could run away again. "Hey." Daryl simply answered, even when he didn't stop looking into the fire and Judith almost missed it being called little ass kicker, something he hadn't done since that one day weeks ago.
"Why are you up?" He asked and expect her expectation he didn't sound annoyed, just tired. "Can't sleep. And you?" Judith answered, looking unsure at the him. Only then she got it how less she knew about the man, who was living in the same house since she could think.
"Just got home." The hunter muttered, while he gave his whole attention the flames. Understanding Judith nodded her head, biting unsure on her underlip she tried to find the right words. "Can I sit down?" She finally asked carefully, afraid, that maybe she already got too far with that.
Daryl didn't answer anything, he just growled something incoherently, which implied Judith as a yes. So she slowly got closer and lowered herself next to the man on the couch, of course not too close, she had got it pretty soon, that Daryl hated body contact or just being too near to someone.
He didn't say or do anything, he just kept on staring into the flames and after some moments Judith imitated him, maybe she will see the same like he obviously did in the fire. But she didn't, she could only feel the warmth, could smell the burnt wood and see the light, yellow flames, which almost hurt her tired eyes.
From time to time she dared to look over at the man next to her from the corner of her eyes. Why was he always so quiet and shy? So introverted? What was his problem? Everyone seemed happy in Alexandria expect him. If she was thinking about it, she had never seen him smiling or just a smirk on his lips.
If she wanted answers to her questions she had to ask now or never. She couldn't sit the whole night long silent next to Daryl and look into the fire, till she will fall asleep. She probably won't ever get a chance like this one again.
After breathing one more time deep inside her lungs, she finally said it out loud "Can I ask you something?" And again expect her expectation nothing happened. Daryl didn't run away or told her to stop, instead he nodded slowly his head to Judith's surprise, his eyes never looked away from the fire, while doing so.
"Well." Surprised about his agreement she first didn't know how to start, she already knew now that this was a very sensitive topic and she had to ask as carefully as possible. After Judith had moved into a more comfortable position, where she pulled her left leg on the couch, so she could face the man sitting next to her, she finally asked "Who was the woman, who has taken care of me, when I was a baby? Daddy said I should ask you about her."
Then it was time for Daryl for breathing deep inside his lungs, he even closed his eyes while doing so. Judith had never seen him in such a state before, he seemed so fragile, like he could break with every second. He didn't seem that surprised about her question, of course he wasn't. He knew about it since weeks, but something was telling Judith that even if he won't, he wouldn't have been surprised that the other had told her to ask him instead.
Seconds, maybe even minutes of silence followed, Judith couldn't say, till Daryl looked away from the fire and instead at his trembling fingers, she had just recognized. "Beth. Her name is Beth."
Judith knew that she wasn't any bit more clever than before, she had already known the woman's name, but Daryl didn't talk about her in the past, instead in the present, like she was still around, still close to him.
"Beth." Judith repeated carefully and Daryl almost shrugged together, when she said the woman's name out loud. Maybe he hadn't heard someone saying her name since a long time. Again her brain tried to find a picture, the face of the woman, like the last weeks, since she had got to know about her.
"And..and who was she?" Judith asked carefully, afraid of saying her name out loud again. She didn't want to frightened Daryl, he would hide himself inside his shell again and won't let her allow to ask any more questions.
Moments of uncomfortable silence followed, while the fire was cracking next to them. Precisely Judith eyed Daryl, his expression and body language and she finally came to the decision that it had a reason, why no one wanted to tell her about the woman and her father had sent her to the hunter. Beth had meant something to Daryl and obviously even much, because of his reaction and how his body was trying to protect himself from her questions, but at this moment she hadn't known how much Beth had really meant to him.
"Her name is Beth. Beth Greene." Daryl finally said with a shaking voice and Judith was surprised, because she hadn't expected to hear his voice one more time tonight. She had heard that surname before, she was for sure, she just couldn't tell where. But then Judith remembered and asked curious "Greene. Wasn't that Maggie's maiden name?"
Still without looking at her, Daryl nodded his head, his way too long hair almost covered his whole face. Oh. Beth was Maggie's sister. That's why she had reacted that day so sad and touched. Judith knew a little about the story how Maggie had come to the group. They had mentioned a farm in their story, but nothing about a sister or any other family member.
"And why did she take care of me, when I was a baby?" Judith asked softly, still afraid that Daryl could stop their conversation and leave her alone. Still nervously and feeling uncomfortable the man was playing with his hands, before he began to move and removed the knife with the light brown case, which obviously bothered him, took the weapon instead in his palms and leaned forward, till he supported his elbows on his knees.
"She always wanted a child. She loved children and they loved her. She was made for it and did it with pleasure. She was like a mother to you." Daryl whispered almost inaudible, so Judith had to listen really close to understand everything right.
Judith let the words sink inside her head, she saw a faceless woman in front of her inner eyes, who carried her little baby self and she began to smile instantly. She didn't know that woman and won't ever get to know her, but Judith still liked her and thanked her for all the things she had done for her. She felt real admiration for Beth.
Judith knew what had happened next, they had to leave the prison, because they got attacked and ended up leaving their home separated. Maybe Beth had already died by the attack, or even before. Maybe she had got away, was on her own and died then. Or she had fled with the other together and died on the way to Alexandria.
But probably she ended up with being separated with Daryl, something Judith could imagine wasn't that easy. Maybe only Daryl had seen how she died and maybe he was still feeling guilty about it and that's the reason why he was acting this way. But what exact part did Beth Greene play in Daryl Dixon's life?
But for now Judith kept that question for herself, instead she asked something more positive "How did she look like?" And it was obviously really a better question, because Judith could watch how Daryl's mouth angles moved up for one quick moment, while he looked dreamily into the flames. Maybe it were the flames dancing in his face or the little smirk on his lips, which made Daryl looking years younger and his whole expression softer.
"Like a God damn angel." His answer surprised her, she hadn't expected something like that, more like his usual muttering, shoulder shrugs or nothing at all. Judith giggled by the thought that Daryl had this picture inside his head, how an angel should look like and obviously Beth Greene was that angel for him.
"So she had blond hair?" Judith asked curious, while inside her head she started to build a picture how Beth could have looked like. "Nah, her hair wasn't just blond. It was almost golden, long and shining. She had her locks always in a high braid with a little braided part in it." Daryl answered, his thoughts far away from the present.
First Judith wanted to ask some more, she had the need to get to know more about Beth's look like, but something was telling her, that if she will keet quiet, Daryl will went on talking. And after some moments he really did. "She used to wear her favourite cowboy boots and didn't even reached my chin, but this girl had some power and temper. Even under the hot Georgia sun her skin still looked like porcelain and her hands were always as soft like she wouldn't work the whole day long."
Daryl stopped and Judith let him the time he needed to went on. She could almost see Beth standing in front of him and his eyes were shinning, while he remembered himself about her. "Carrying you the whole day long gave her some strong arms, but she still looked so wispy. Her smile was brighter than the stars, truthfully and could make worse days good. And her eyes. I have never seen such big, light blue eyes in my life before. They seemed endless and were so indescribably beautiful."
Now also Judith almost saw Beth standing in front of them, smiling that famous smile at the two of them. She hadn't know that Daryl knew words like these to describe someone and Judith asked herself what the woman would have said to her, if she would still be around. Would she be proud at her, about what she had become?
Silence followed, while Daryl was playing absently with the knife in his hand, his thoughts still far away. But he was obviously finished with telling her and himself, how Beth had looked like, so Judith tried to ask carefully, but still Daryl frightened. He was in his own world, together with his thoughts and memories, he had totally forgotten about the young girl sitting next to him.
"How was she? I mean, how was her being?" Daryl's almost happy mood suddenly changed and he clasped the weapon in his hand even tighter, while his eyes watched the flames. "She was everyone sunshine, all eyes were on her whenever she entered a room. She had that certain something, could handle with children pretty well, she could understand everyones feelings and helped to solve problems. She had this innocence way in her eyes, was always kind and patient, sometimes almost a little naive, but she had never lost hope, even in the darkest days."
Still curious, Judith eyed the man in front of her. She had never heard Daryl talking so soft and quiet before, also the words he used were new for her. What had this woman done that he was so different, while talking about her?
"People thought she was weak, because of her kind way and being so young, but she wasn't, in contrast. She was the strongest woman I ever got to know. Maybe not physically, but being strong physically isn't that difficult. Being strong psychologically in contrast is. She always found the right words to say, what to do in hard moments, how get close to people, to make them feel better again."
Daryl swallowed then, his voice had sounded shaking and almost broken with the last words. Uncomfortable he cleaned his throat, while he looked at the knife from every side. "She was perfect, an angel in- and outside. Someone who deserved more and better."
Silence followed then, not uncomfortable silence, but Judith could almost hear Daryl's thoughts running through his head. And then she was speechless for the first time tonight. She hadn't expected Daryl to talk that much and closely about Beth. And he seemed so sad at the moment, how he sat there, almost like a wounded deer.
Trying to hide himself behind his long hair, his heart was probably beating pretty fast at the moment, his face was tensed like he was trying to hold back his feelings, while his eyes were still fixed at the knife in his shaking hands. And then Judith suddenly got it.
Carefully she moved closer to Daryl, but of course not too close, when she whispered compassionate "It was hers right?" She talked about the knife, he was holding since they have started their conversation, like it was his heart. Daryl kept on looking at the weapon and Judith thought that now she had gone too far.
That he will tell her to leave or he will run upstairs, maybe will even get loud about her asking something like that, but he kept quiet and where he was. Then, after a half eternity, he finally nodded his head. This knife was Beth's weapon and Daryl carried it with him since years. Always close to himself, never letting go.
"It's the only thing you have left from her, right?" She asked softly, already knowing the answer anyway. This time Daryl response nothing, he knew that Judith already knew the answer and that she probably felt sorry for him, that he didn't have a photo or something like that left from Beth instead of a knife, but something was telling her, that it didn't bother him. He was probably simply relieved to have something from her.
Then Judith's thoughts began to work again, when she asked herself what Beth Greene was to Daryl Dixon. She was Maggie's sister, maybe Daryl was related to the Greene's and was Beth's uncle? Or cousin? Maybe he simply felt guilty for her death, still today, maybe it was even his fault? Maybe the two of them were good friends? Maybe their friendship had started during the apocalypse or even before?
Judith simply had to ask Daryl now, she couldn't hold it back any more. It will probably be her last question tonight, so she tried to sound as soft as possible "So Beth was Maggie's younger sister. But.. but what was she to you?"
Suddenly Daryl looked up into the fire and Judith got a quick hint from his eyes and then it hit her like a slap in the face. It was so obviously, why hadn't she thought about this sooner?
She knew that she shouldn't ask that, but she also couldn't stop herself any more, when the words rolled uncontrollable over her lips "You loved her right?" Daryl's body got stiff instantly, like something was pressing the air painfully out of his lungs. He had stopped trembling, but Judith could still see the goose bumps everywhere on his skin.
Slowly, almost scared he finally began to breathe again, just when she began to worry that she had broken his heart one more time with her thoughtless question. Judith could watch how Daryl opened his mouth a gap, but no words came out, just a little, helpless whimper.
She had just decided to better leave him alone now, when Daryl moved slowly his head, till the girl could see the hunter's eyes for the first time this night. And no words were needed any more, they were telling her everything anyway.
Tears were swimming in his usual so dark, almost dangerous looking eyes. Now they were so broken, fragile, soft and sad like she had never thought they could be that way. His whole expression told Judith that he didn't just love Beth, it was more than that. She was his life, no, Beth Greene was still his life, even after all these years.
Ashamed about showing his feelings in front of her, Daryl finally looked into the flames again, using his whole body control to not start crying, like he had probably already done so many times alone in his room. Never ever had Judith seen Daryl Dixon in such a state before, she had also never thought that he could be like that. He always seemed so taff, strong and without any feelings, but he had more than she could even dream about.
"Was she your wife?" Judith asked carefully, maybe talking about it will help him somehow, make him feel better. After all it was her fault, that he was feeling so sad right now, she simply had to try it.
She hadn't expected an answer, wasn't surprised when he simply shook his head. "But you were together, right?" Judith whispered and this time she hadn't expected it, when he shook his head one more time. "Oh." Left her lips and the man next to her flinched badly, like this simply word meant something to him. Maybe she had said it once.
"But she knew you loved her right?" Judith played with the thought to get closer to him, lay her hand on his lower arm or something like that and maybe by someone other it would have worked, but she knew it won't make it better for him. In contrast, it would make everything even worse, if that was even possible.
And this time it also broke Judith's heart, when Daryl shook his head one more time. Feeling her own tears burning in her eyes, her throat was completely strangled, while she began to understand why he was acting the way he always did. In her life she had never felt any more compassion for someone, than the broken man sitting in front of her.
Shortly after her first tear broke free, Judith almost frightened, when she could hear his broken voice in the silent room. "Never got the chance to." With the sleeve of her pyjama Judith whipped her tears away, sniffed one time and before she began to speak she cleared her throat quietly "I bet she knew it anyway. That you loved her."
"Don't think so. I just won't ever get to know it." Daryl muttered broken, his voice was shaking, Judith could hear the sadness between every word. "I'm sure she knew it Daryl. I mean it's so clear, so obviously. The way you talk about her, I have never heard you talking that soft about someone, have never heard you using such beautiful words to describe someone. I bet you were a gentleman around her, did everything she wanted with pleasure. Treated her like a prince treated his princess. She knew it Daryl. And I'm also sure that she loved you back with her whole heart like you are still doing."
Daryl kept the way he was for a few more seconds, letting Judith's words sink inside himself, thinking about it, till he finally decided that she was right. Slowly his broken eyes met the young girl's ones again and this time he couldn't stop it any more, when one tear broke free from the corner of his eye and rolled down his cheek, till to his chin.
"You want to know what she was to me? She was my life, my second and last chance, my hope, my everything. Without her I wouldn't be here right now. I won't ever forget the things she has done for me, I won't ever forget her. She had saved my life and one day I will find her and everything will be good then. Beth Greene was and will always be the love of my life." Daryl whispered heartbroken, till his voice failed him and was finally just a whimper in the end.
Her own tears were running down her cheeks, while Judith eyed Daryl with compassion and also much respect and admiration. Beth Greene was everything he ever had, everything he ever wanted and he probably still only kept on because of her. His heart belong to her and even after all this time he loved her like the very first day and nothing, nothing in this whole world will ever change that.
Daryl Dixon was a broken man and the only thing that could fix him was Beth Greene, but she was gone, just gone and nothing could bring her back to the man she belonged to. Judith hoped that one day she will meet someone like Daryl. Someone who gave her the same endless love than Daryl had for his Beth. What the two of them had, had been even stronger than love, even when till today Judith had thought that there couldn't be anything stronger than love, but right now she knew she was wrong the whole time.
"I'm sorry." She whispered softly, sorry about asking, dig out all the feelings, remember him about the love of his life he had lost and sorry for all the horrible things that had happened in his life. Not only did Beth deserved better and more, Daryl also did.
He kept quiet the whole time, looked broken into the flames, while tears were streaming silently down his face and he still clutched Beth's knife like it was really his heart. Suddenly Judith began to feel damn tired and something was telling her that she should better leave the hunter alone now, give him some peace.
Carefully the girl moved closer to Daryl and before he could even notice it or discourage her, Judith placed a quick, but well-meant kiss on his tear streaming cheek. "Good night Daryl." She whispered, before she stood up.
"Night little ass kicker." Daryl response, which caused a smile on the girl's lips, while she made her way upstairs. When she was on the last steps she stopped and looked at the hunter one more time.
He will probably sit the whole night long there and look into the flames, thinking about the good old times, about what he had done wrong, what he would do different now, imagine Beth in front of him.
Judith asked herself how Daryl would have been right now, what person he would be, if Beth Greene would still be alive. She could almost see the young woman sitting with her blond locks, made into a high braid, next to the man with the shaggy hair. Their heads leaned against each other, while they enjoyed the warmth of the fire.
They would hold hands and smile dreamily at each other. Daryl would tell Beth all the beautiful things he had told Judith before and Beth would reply his love, lean over and kiss his lips, to secure him that she was his.
Judith was sure, that they would have many babies together, maybe they would even be married, and Judith would never get annoyed about the baby's screams, because Daryl deserved the love, his Beth, a family.
Judith smiled by that thought, while her eyes filled with new tears and after she had blinked them away, also the blond woman sitting next to Daryl had gone away. Only Daryl was left and his sadness.
She felt so bad for him, but nobody could make him feel better again and so Judith breathed deeply inside her lungs one more time, before she finally got into her room with the thought that somewhere Beth Greene was waiting for her Daryl.